9 Steps to Achieve Extreme Productivity in the Face of the New Normal
The notion of ‘extreme productivity’ is often confused with staying back late in the office or working over the weekend. But this understanding of productivity will not be feasible in 2021 for two main reasons:
Employees are working from home and the managers have less visibility on what their direct reports are doing.
The modern thought leaders value smart work over hard work.
According to Forrester’s prediction for business trends in 2021, remote work will rise to 300% of what it was before the rise of the pandemic. This could mean that we are looking at a new era in which ‘work-life balance’; would literally mean juggling various roles while working from home. While some may find this manageable, a lot of employees with families or dependents may take the brunt of juggling personal and professional deadlines.
Though we have started yet another year, a few responsibilities like childcare and household chores still majorly fall on women, which adds an extra hurdle to their WFH battle when compared to men. Women make up about 48% of the US workforce, yet they are pressured into adjusting their careers owing to the added responsibility of managing and taking care of their families.
How can we address the issue before it gets further out of hand? What if mothers, single parents, and anyone with substantial personal responsibilities find a way to achieve extreme productivity by putting in a reduced number of hours? That’s exactly what this article will help you figure out.
1. Begin at the End
According to the MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Robert Pozen’s book titled Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, it is always a good idea to map the course of action from the end result to the starting point, especially when it comes to high-priority projects. Get an idea running, do “mid-flight” checks to devise changes, and learn on the job instead of spending weeks or months just doing research and gathering data. Understand that information gets updated every day. If you wait for long, the data you gathered might even prove to be irrelevant.
2. Prioritize your goals
Strategizing is key to extreme productivity. Set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. This might sound like an impossible feat, but it’s not, really. As we are at the start of 2021, this is a great time for this exercise. Set a yearly goal for your career and then work towards is by setting monthly and weekly goals. These can be then simplified to simpler daily tasks.
For example, if your goal for this year is to become an expert in Artificial Intelligence (AI), your monthly goals can be to complete one course in AI every three months. Your weekly goals can be to reach out to subject matter experts within or outside the organization once a week to top up your knowledge. And your daily goal can be to read one new article on AI or Machine Learning (ML) every day.
3. Delay Gratification
Don’t procrastinate or get distracted by the things you love to do. Instead, treat yourself to these “distractions” whenever you complete a task. Don’t think “I’ll listen to some music first” or “I’ll finish this task after watching one more episode”—do it the other way around. Give yourself a break by savoring a snack or taking a short Netflix break after you have finished half of your tasks for the day. Use this delayed gratification as a way to recharge yourself for achieving extreme productivity.
4. Play to your Strengths
There are no universal rules or hacks to attain extreme productivity. Play to your strengths and stick to what works best for you. If you are someone who does yoga, you will be able to focus better and for longer periods of time. If you are a mother with small kids, you may be really good at multitasking or managing people. If you are someone who loves to solve puzzles, you might be an expert in finding shortcuts or smart solutions at work. Identify what your X factor is, and use it to maximize your progress. This will also help you realize what your weak points are, so you can work towards bridging those gaps.
5. Invest in WFH Gear
As the vaccinations are making the rounds, the pandemic will soon become a thing of the past. But remote working is here to stay. Global Workplace Analytics points out that even before the pandemic, 80% of employees wanted to work from home once in a while based on a survey on the State of Remote Work 2019, conducted by Owl Labs. 2020 proved that remote workplaces can be productive to a great extent; given roadblocks like connectivity issues, lack of infrastructure, and disrupted supervision are set aside.
As this also saves millions of dollars that spent on office spaces, leaders are more than willing to equip their employees with WFH essentials like ergonomic chairs, work desks, and personal computers. But if that’s not the case, then go ahead and invest in everything you need to ensure extreme productivity while working from home. Understand that you are probably in for the long haul, so better do it the right way. Sitting in the wrong position for hours or constantly battling with an underperforming system could take a toll on your mental, physical, and professional health.
6. Schedule Breaks in Between
Achieving extreme productivity does not mean slogging for long hours non-stop—it’s all about getting out the maximum work from the minimum hours you can put in. For this to happen, you need to take regular breaks to clear your mind and nourish your body:
Get up from your chair and stretch every 20 minutes
Take a quick stroll around your home every hour
Drink plenty of water, eat meals on time
Take bathroom breaks
Listen to some music
Watch a cat video or two
Take a power nap if needed
Strike the perfect balance between work and leisure is the key to maximizing productivity.
7. Bond with Coworkers
You may not see your colleagues anymore but that doesn’t mean you can’t bond with them. Don’t just stick to official calls. Chat with them regularly, get to know your new colleagues, build relationships. Extreme productivity is predominantly a team effort. You cannot pull off a project on your own if your teammates are not in sync with you—well, maybe you can, but it won’t be as effective as when the whole team gives their 100%.
8. Keep the Big Picture in mind
Wrapping your head around the fact that you are making a difference can inspire extreme productivity. Understand that whatever you do plays a part in helping the company and your career grow. No matter what the task is at hand, make sure that it aligns with the long-term plans you have for yourself and the organization you are a part of.
9. Be More Accountable
One of the main reasons your productivity is waning might be due to the fact that there is no one to guide you or give your regular feedback as you are not in the office. Calling up your manager 10 times a day is not as practical or effective as having a face-to-face discussion with them. The only way to resolve this is by taking matters into your own hands.
Follow your own judgement and intuition as much as possible.
Be your own critic and cheerleader.
Find ways to learn and improve your skills outside of the company
Set deadlines for yourself even if your manager doesn’t
Be your own motivation and competition
It’s high time we stopped equating working overtime with productivity. An employee who can retrieve impressive results within 2-3 hours is far more valuable than an employee who does a half-baked job after clocking in 8 hours.
Let this New Year usher in an era that identifies and appreciates smart and innovative solutions over prolonged hours of average performance. This could also enable some of our best, most creative employees that include millions of working women, especially mothers to fulfil their responsibilities without having to sacrifice their passion or careers.
Let’s focus on building remote workforces that are diverse, inclusive, empowering, and also extremely productive.
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About the Company:
Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has been Chicago's premier Information Technology (IT) staffing, consulting, and recruiting firm for over 22+ years. Named after Chicago's historic Peterson Avenue, PTP has built its reputation by developing lasting relationships, leading digital transformation, and inspiring technical innovation throughout Chicagoland.
Based in Park Ridge, IL, PTP's 250+ employees have a narrow focus on a single market (Chicago) and expertise in 4 innovative technical areas;
Cloud & DevOps
PTP exists to ensure that all of our partners (clients and candidates alike) make the best hiring and career decisions.
Peterson Technology Partners is an equal opportunity employer.